Liz talks about her excavation experience in Estonia

I came to Estonia for a digging holiday away from my usual job in working for York Archaeological Trust. There are some stark differences between archaeological practices here in Estonia and back home in England which have caused great discussions between myself and native excavators. To my knowledge it is mandatory on commercial excavations in the UK to wear steel toe capped boots at all times on dig sites. This should usually be accompanied by a high vis jacket and hard hat displaying company logos. You can never dig in shorts.

During excavations at the tarand-grave people get in amongst the large stones that mark the grave site with their bare feet and could shift soil in their bikinis if they wished. I cant quite bring myself to that but dig in shorts and trainers, not trusting myself not to impale or otherwise injure my feet and religiously smother my pasty legs in insect repellant in the vain hope that the mosquitoes will leave me alone. I have more than fifty large bites on my legs alone.

When I return to site in York I will hide my painful advert for Brits abroad in combat trousers and don my work boots, despite the similarly roasting summer being experienced in both locations. Despite not fully embracing usual Estonian excavation attire I have appreciated the freedom, and relaxed attitudes on site compared to what I am used to in the UK. This includes enjoying a beer and a sunbathe between shovelling dirt.

Tulin Eestisse vahvale kaevamisretkele, eemale oma põhitööst Yorkis Inglismaal. On selge, et kaevamispraktika siin Eestis ja kodus Inglismaal on üsna erinev – eks oleme sel teemal ka palju arutanud. Näiteks on brittidel minu teada kohustuslik kanda kaevamistel alati raudninadega jalatseid. Sellele lisaks pistetakse Ühendkuningriigis selga veel helkurvest ja kiiver koos vastavate firmade logodega. Lühikestes pükstes kaevamist küll ette ei tule.

Tarandkalme kaevamistel ronivad inimesed kalmekivide vahele lausa paljajalu ning võivad seal töötada lausa ujumisriietes. Päris hästi ma sellega küll ei kohandu ja pole lühikestes pükstes kaevandisse roninud, kuna pole kindel, et ma oma jalgu kogemata ei vigasta. Oht on suur. Loodan siiski, et meeletu mutukatõrjevahend suudab igasugu elukad minust eemal hoida. Ilmselt küll asjatult, kui arvestada, et mu jalgadel on juba enam kui viiskümmend erinevat putukahammustust.

Yorki naastes peidan oma üdibritilikud jõledad sõjeväemaigulised püksid ja saapad, ilm on tegelikult  ju sealgi samalaadne. Ma pole küll päris omaks võtnud eestimaist nappi kaevamiskostüümi, aga siinne vabadus ja muhe suhtumine kaevandis on midagi uut ja mõnusat. Mulla kühveldamise vaheajal päevitamine ja väike karastava märjukese nautimine on igaljuhul integraalne osa sellest kogemusest.

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